tonight on "nightline," chasing ice. killer hurricanes, scorching drought. the gravest danger facing the planet may be told in these incredible photos. we travel to the frozen landscapes at the end of the world in a search for answers. holy land under fire. panic in the streets of jerusalem and tel aviv, as a barrage of missiles sends families running for cover and tensions threaten to boil over into full-scale war. abc's christiane amanpour reports from a middle east on the brink. and, the cutest curse. a jungle creature so adorable it became a cuddly youtube sensation. how sudden fame could be the downfall of these big-eyed beasts.
>> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," november 16th, 2012. >> good friday evening, i'm bill weir. well, only in america is it controversial for me to begin tonight's program by declaring that global warming is really happening. for doubters, 332-straight months of above average temperatures is not proof enough. and even among believers, there's a fight over who to blame, god or man, natural cycles of fossil fuels. the very words climate change were noticeably absent from this past election, but sandy brought them back in a big way and eager to fuel the conversation, two artists convinced they can help skeptics see climate change in ways scientists cannot. if you drive outside of juneau, alaska, past nugget falls and through the blueberry colored
icebe icebergs, you will find mendenhall glacier. of what's left of it. >> the ice came out to right about here in 2007. >> reporter: wow. five years ago, we'd be bumping into the glacier right here. >> yeah. >> reporter: and if you time your visit just right, you might run into james, nature photographer, geo-morphologis and reformed climate change skeptic. >> when i first heard about the man-made climate change story, i had a knee jerk reflexive skepticism. >> reporter: but the more he learned about ice, the more he worried. the more time he spent the the arctic, the more he saw glaciers disappearing. and the more he thought about his kids. >> i imagine myself as an old man sitting on a rocking chair and i hear my daughters saying to me, you know, what were you doing when this change was happening?
>> reporter: and so he launched the extreme ice survey. an effort to capture the changing planet by placing time lapse cameras at the top of the world. and as you can see in the new film "chasing ice," -- >> look at that. look at the whole thing. >> reporter: that is no easy feat. >> this knee's had two surgeries on it already. >> reporter: between the bum knee, the god forsaken cold winds and the fragile cameras, the whole thing nearly killed him. >> the electronics cost me years of my life in terms of anxiety and tension and high blood pressure and just general suffering. >> reporter: that's interesting to know, considering i've seen some of your critics online, who say you're in this for the money. >> yeah, right. you know what they can do? they can kiss my you know what about ten times. >> reporter: but five years later, here is just one small taste of the fruits of his labor. visual proof of mendenhall's steady retreat.
in the winter, will this come back? >> the retreat sends to slow down in the wintertime. maybe it stabilizes or creeps forward a tiny little bit. but boy, as soon as the warming season comes back on, it continues to gobble itself backwards. >> reporter: the satellite pictures back that up. since '79, half the arctic sea ice have disappeared. just this year, 4.5 scare miles melted away. an area the size of the u.s. and mexico combined. >> okay, here it comes. >> reporter: meanwhile, back when jim was mounting his first ice cameras, an artist in brooklyn was pushing the kind of machine you use to chalk lines on a ball field. after reading a scary 2001 prediction from nasa that climate change powered storms would wipe out entire neighborhoods, she decided to see which neighborhoods, by marking the high water line around new york city. >> this would be under water. this would be dry, so, there would be a little dry strip down the center of the road and all
of this would be under water. >> reporter: her chalk was gone by the time sandy hit, but the lines were right. and in many places, the damage exceeded her worst fears. and suddenly, that wishy washy conversation changed. >> not so much of an "i told you so" as "i'm really sorry this had to happen." the fact it takes something so drastic, despite people in his administration know about it, you know end that it really takes us having a visceral experience to shift even the conversation. >> reporter: right. >> much less action. >> reporter: america is the last developed nation still arguing over all of this. on one side, those with the faith that humans could never alter the planet so profoundly. happy to agree are oil and coal companies and a political party strongly opposed to any new environmental regulations. >> president obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans.
and to heal the planet. my promise is to help you and your family. >> reporter: on the other side are 99% of climate scientists with ph.ds and the president. >> i am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. >> reporter: and happy to agree are most of the insurance companies that insure insurance companies. like munich re. the german giant reported last month that north america is getting the worst of it, as weather disasters cost over a trillion dollars in the last 30 years, as storms quintupled. and they're warning kri ining c brace for much more as the melting accelerates. >> 1984, the glacier was down there, 11 miles away. and today, it's back here.
receded 11 miles. the glacier's retreating, but it is thinning at the same time. like air being let out of a balloon. you can see what's called the trim line. the high water mark of the glacier, in 1984. that vertical change is the height of the empire state building. >> reporter: skeptics will note on the other side of the planet, antarctic ice is expanding to record levels. but that is cold comfort, when scientists explain that north pole ice is melting eight times faster than the south pole ice can grow in the winter, 25 times faster in the summer. and, so, eve, who has traded her chalk machine in for a stroller the last couple of years, has agreed to revive her high water line project in miami, philadelphia and london. and james vows to keep those cameras snapping. at least until the glaciers start growing. >> and i'd like to be able to
say, girls, i was doing everything that i knew how to do with the skills that i had. and that was witness, tell the story and give voice to this landscape. >> reporter: sound the alarm. >> sound the alarm. >> reporter: do you think we've reached the tipping point where people are hearing that alert yet or do you think it will take a major disaster before the world will pull together? >> well, i'm afraid that it may take, you know, a really serious, unpleasant set of events before the world truly knuckles down and takes this seriously and does everything that we're already capable of doing to mitigate it. but i hope that's not the case. i hope we're smarter than that. >> "chasing ice" is in select theaters now. you can check their website for details. and coming up next, rockets light up the sky between israel and gaza as families on both sides hug their kids a little tighter. abc's christiane amanpour has the latest.
sfx- "sounds of african drum and flute" look who's back. again? it's embarrassing it's embarrassing! we can see you carl. we can totally see you. come on you're better than this...all that prowling around. yeah, you're the king of the jungle. have you thought about going vegan carl? hahaha!! you know folks who save hundreds of dollars by switching to geico sure are happy. how happy are they jimmy? happier than antelope with night-vision goggles. nice! get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
social security are just numbers thinkin a budget.d... well, we worked hard for those benefits. we earned them. and if washington tries to cram decisions about the future... of these programs into a last minute budget deal... we'll all pay the price. aarp is fighting to protect seniors with responsible... solutions that strengthen medicare and... social security for generations to come.
we can do better than a last minute deal... that would hurt all of us. bp has paid overthe people of bp twenty-threeitment to the gulf. billion dollars to help those affected and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger.
>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with bill weir. >> this day marked a major escalation in the intensifying standoff in the middle east, as rockets sailed from the hamas-controlled gaza strip towards the holy city of jerusalem for the first time in 40 years. abc's christiane amanpour reports from a middle east on the brink. >> reporter: bill, we were outdoors shooting today when all of a sudden, the air raid siren went off. really unusual here in jerusalem, to know that missiles were being launched towards this city. a rocket was launched, hamas made a public statement saying they were targeting jerusalem, but it didn't reach here. it did not fall in the city. i spoke to the mayor who said that it did not hit this city.
it was slightly south, there was no damage and no casualties. but it does raise the question of how this whole equation is changing, now that there is a new middle east. the post-arab spring middle east. egypt, which used to be the one who would pressure hamas, who would come in and try to demand a cease-fire and try to mediate, now egyptian officials have come to gaza, stood shoulder to shoulder with the hamas prime minister and called this aggression untenable. the president of egypt warned israel, practically threatened israel to stop this aggression, as he called it, or else. hamas also wants to show that this is a new middle east. hamas is part of this muslim brotherhood that is here in this part of the arab world, that it has new friends, it believes, and it is not going to take it lying down. we're waiting to see how this develops. it could escalate the next 24 to 48 hours. that's going to be critical. bill? >> thank you, christiane. it will's turn to the other side, hamas may be considered a
terrorist organization by the u.s. and israeli governments, but in gaza, they are the elected leaders, embolden by new allies after the arab spring. and abc's alex marquardt has been reporting amid relentless air strikes there. >> reporter: as of tonight, israel has carried out more than 600 air strikes on this narrow strip of land with almost 2 million people. they've left some 30 palestinians dead and scores wounded. most of them civilians, according to gaza health officials. here at gaza's biggest hospital today, we saw a steady stream of wounded arriving. including children. we were taken back to the intensive care unit, its beds filled with men in comas. are you able to cope if this escalation continues? >> no. no. because up to now, the situation is stable. and if it continues, we can't. >> reporter: israel says it is targeting terror site us, today
hitting gaza's interior ministry, which secures. one of the main groups firing on israel, islamic jihad, told us today they won't stop until israel stops its air strikes. "of course," he said. "he wouldn't fire rockets if israel wasn't killing us." israel says the operation is in response to the relentless barrage of rockets flying into southern israel. the israeli defense forces say militants have launched almost 600 rockets into the country in the past three days alone. around a third of which have been intercepted by israel's famed iron dome anti-missile system. since wednesday, three people have died in israel and, for the first time since the gulf war in 1991, the commercial center, tel aviv, has also come under tack. >> the attempt last night by the terrorists in gaza to launch
rockets on tel aviv only underscores the danger that the israeli public faces. >> reporter: tonight, a neighborhood of tel aviv, a popular night spot, was quiet. >> i'm stressed, also, but you know, life is continuing. >> reporter: the israeli military isn't taking any chances, as soldiers and armored vehicles mass near the gaza border, preparing for a ground offensive. >> we are preparing for any possibility. a ground operation is a possibility, though it hasn't been decided on at this point. >> reporter: another sign a ground invasion may be imminent. israel today called up 20,000 reservist reservists. as some arrived at their base, air raid sirens sounded in the distance. the end of this latest flairup may not be near. israeli authorities have prepared for seven weeks of fighting. israel says it is responding as any other country world. gazans says they are resisting
an occupation. this violence further destabilizes an already unstable region, testing leaders and relationships. and neither side is showing any sign of backing down. for "nightline," i'm alex marquardt in the gaza strip. >> our thanks to alex. hope you stay well over there. up next, more general gentl as we meet an adorable primate with an unlikely foe -- his own youtube fame. sometimes life can be well, a little uncomfortable. but when it's hard or hurts to go to the bathroom,
there's dulcolax stool softener. dulcolax stool softener doesn't make you go, it just makes it easier to go. dulcolax stool softener. make yourself comfortable. makes it easy for anne to manage her finances when she's on the go. even when she's not going anywhere. citibank for ipad. easier banking. standard at citibank.
okay. [ male announcer ] with citibank's popmoney, dan can easily send money by email right from his citibank account. nice job ben. [ male announcer ] next up -- the gutters. citibank popmoney. easier banking. standard at citibank. they are tiny, adorable and huge on the internet. they are called slow lorises. wide-eyed primates with millions of youtube fans. but a tidal wave of demand for the real life version of the online play thing has taken a steep toll. here's abc's jeffrey kaufman. >> reporter: they arer
reistable. tiny creatures with oh, so probes eyes. they look like a furry cartoon character, don't they? few had ever heard of the slow loris until it became an internet sensation on youtube. making millions of people smile. >> first time i've ever seen a loris. oh. so, what are they? we met with one of the world's only slow loris experts, dr. anna nekaris, at one of the few zoos that keeps lorises. the paignton zoo in england. >> this is a species that's found in indo-china. the smallest slow loris. >> reporter: with the biggest eyes i've ever seen. >> it's nocturnal so it needs big eyes to see in the dark and it's shy at the moment. >> reporter: and you don't want me to say this is a super cute animal, do you? >> well, it obviously is very cute and being cute is its downfall. >> reporter: stick with us. we'll explain. bbc and animal planet followed
the illusive obscure creatures into the jungles of indonesia with dr. nekaris as she studied them. they're not so cuddly in the wild. in fact, they're the only mammal on earth with a venom mouse bite. dr. nekaris learned that the hard way when one bit her. >> it is not pleasant. like a snake, it can decay and fester and the wound takes quite a long time to heal. >> reporter: it hurts. >> and it throbs, it can throb for days and days and they can bite straight through your fingernail and into the bone. >> reporter: villagers say a loris bite can kill. >> if he would to go into his defensive posture, he would raise his arms above his head and really squeeze them tightly and this would be when he would be putting oil from his arm bits, mixing it in his mouth. and the growl that mimics a cobra. >> reporter: the doctor is working to understand why the
loris has its lethal venom. but her research is revealing something even more threatening. lorises are rapidly disappearing from the jungles. those youtube videos are part of the problem. they have become coveted pets. especially in japan, russia and the persian gulf. dr. nekaris is finding fewer of them in the jungle, but they're easy to find in the illegal animal markets of azy. their teeth removed with nail clippers. they sell for about $25. smuggled out of the country, though, they are worth thousands. are they endangered? >> they all are, yes. >> reporter: illegal trade -- >> is the number one threat. >> reporter: the world was a safer place for these animals, when the world beyond the jungle didn't know that the oh, so lovable loris existed. i'm jeffrey kofman for "nightline" in paignton, england. >> slow lorises airs november 20th on animal planet.